Alberta Health Services said Wednesday morning the full facility outbreak includes all adult and child services including the emergency department. Patients should not visit the Misericordia, and should instead visit another hospital or call 911 if needed.
“We took this measure to reduce the risk of further transmission and to allow this facility to focus on the staff, patients and physicians there,” Dr. David Zygun, the Edmonton zone medical director for AHS, said Wednesday afternoon.
No patients will be admitted to the hospital and day procedures and visits will be postponed or rescheduled at another Edmonton hospital, AHS added.
“We acknowledge the challenges these additional restrictions create for patients, families, staff and physicians.”
The first case of COVID-19 related to the outbreak was identified at the Misericordia on June 21, according to AHS.
As of Wednesday morning, AHS said there are 20 patients at the hospital who have tested positive for the coronavirus in relation to the outbreak. In addition, 15 staff members have tested positive. There have been three deaths related to the outbreak.
Zygun said he couldn’t say where the outbreak originated, other than it was on “medicine wards.”
While AHS and Covenant Health are working together to trace the origin of the outbreak, Zygun said they don’t have an answer yet.
“Many times in these outbreaks we don’t identify one exact cause, but Covenant Health and AHS is working together on this investigation, which includes a look at all aspects.”
Admitted patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus are being treated on two units within the hospital, according to AHS’ latest update Wednesday.
“We cohort these cases so we can take those extra, enhanced PPE precautions,” Zygun said.
“Obviously they need isolation as well, so the isolation protocols are all in effect there and we’re supporting them, again, with additional infection prevention and control resources to ensure that we’re meticulous about our PPE and management of new cases.”
AHS said patients within the hospital will continue to receive the treatment, care and support they need. In order to keep everyone safe, visitors will be restricted to end-of-life situations only.
Anyone planning to give birth at the Misericordia will have arrangements made to deliver at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital.
“The safety of our patients, staff, physicians and visitors remains our number one priority,” said Dr. Owen Heisler, chief medical officer with Covenant Health, the organization that operates the hospital.
“Covenant Health, Alberta Health Services and our teams continue to work tirelessly and collaboratively, taking every possible step to respond with compassion to this challenging situation and to ensure a safe environment for care.”
The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents about 600 general support staff at the hospital, including food services and cleaning staff. CUPE spokesperson Lou Arab said all staff members have been “extra vigilant about safety procedures.”
“They are running into that building while the rest of us are staying out and running in the opposite direction because that’s what health-care workers do and they need to be saluted for it and they need to be taken care of as well,” Arab said Wednesday.
Arab said the CUPE continues to work with Covenant Health, which has been “very good” about keeping staff informed about what’s going on.
“The organization has chosen to put this hospital on lockdown and send new patients to other facilities in the city and I think that’s a wise move for now.”
The latest numbers released by Alberta Health Tuesday afternoon showed there were 620 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 243 of which were in the Edmonton zone.
In total, there have been 8,436 cases of COVID-19 and 157 deaths related to the disease in Alberta. As of Tuesday afternoon, 7,659 people have recovered from COVID-19.
– With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED
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